This wide-ranging introduction to the most fundamental principles, methods, and theoretical approaches of archaeology, combined with coverage of the major developments of human prehistory, is a book for complete beginners. Using first-person experience, a conversational narrative, and unique, truly global coverage reflected in examples from all parts of the world, it paints a compelling portrait of archaeology, science, and the past.The first half of the book covers the basic principles, methods and theoretical approaches of archaeology. The second half is summary of the major developments of human prehistory: the origins of humankind and the archaic world, the origins and spread of modern humans, the emergence of food production, and the beginnings of civilizationWritten for people who want to know more about archaeology and prehistory, not necessarily with a view to becoming a professional archaeologist.
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Brian Fagan is one of the leading archaeological writers in the world and an internationally recognized authority on world prehistory. He studied archaeology and anthropology at Pembroke College, Cambridge University, and then spent seven years in sub-Saharan Africa working in museums and in monuments conservation and excavating early farming sites in Zambia and East Africa. He was one of the pioneers of multidisciplinary African history in the 1960s. Since 1967, he has been professor of anthropology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he has specialized in lecturing and writing about archaeology to wide audiences.
Professor Fagan has written six best-selling textbooks: Ancient Lives: An Introduction to Archaeology; In the Beginning; Archaeology: A Brief Introduction; People of the Earth; World Prehistory; Historical Archaeology (with Charles E. Orser)—all published by Prentice Hall—which are used around the world. His general books include The Rape of the Nile, a classic history of Egyptology; The Adventure of Archaeology; Time Detectives; Floods, Famines, and Emperors: EI Niño and the Fate of Civilizations; Ancient North America; and The Little Ice Age. He is general editor of the Oxford Companion to Archaeology. In addition, he has published several scholarly monographs on African archaeology and numerous specialized articles in national and international journals. He is also an expert on multimedia teaching and has received the Society for American Archaeology's first Public Education Award for his indefatigable efforts on behalf of archaeology and education.
Brian Fagan's other interests include bicycling, sailing, kayaking, and good food. He is married and lives in Santa Barbara with his wife and daughter, four cats (who supervise his writing), and last but not least, four rabbits.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
GOLDEN PHARAOHS, LOST CITIES, GRINNING HUMAN SKELETONS: archaeology is the stuff of romance and legend! Many people still think of archaeologists as adventurers and treasure hunters, like Indiana Jones of, Hollywood movie fame seeking the elusive Holy Grail. These enduring images go back to the late nineteenth century, when archaeologists like Heinrich Schliemann could still find' lost civilizations like Troy and excavate three royal palaces in a week. Today, few, if any, archaeologists are like Indiana Jones. They are scientists, not adventurers, as comfortable in an air-conditioned laboratory as they are on a remote excavation. The development of scientific archaeology from its Victorian beginnings ranks among the greatest triumphs of twentieth-century science.
Archaeology has changed our understanding of the human experience in profound ways. A century ago, most scientists believed that humans were no more than 100,000 years old. Today we know that our origins go back 5 million years. Our predecessors assumed that the Americas were settled about 8000 B.C. and that farming began around 4000 B.C. New excavations date the first Americans to at least 12,000 B.C. and the beginnings of agriculture to about 10,000 B.C. Most important of all, archaeology has changed our perceptions of ourselves, our biological and cultural diversity. Welcome to the fascinating world of archaeology and prehistory.
Ancient Lives began life as a textbook on the basic methods and theories of archaeology, an introduction to the workings of a scientific discipline. This second edition is reborn as an entirely different book, one that combines an exploration of archaeology, the discipline, with a brief narrative of prehistory, what actually happened in the early human past. In short, it has become an archaeology and prehistory text. This book is a celebration of the only scientific discipline that studies human biological and cultural evolution over enormously long periods of time. In these pages, we celebrate more than 2.5 million years of the human past.
ABOUT ANCIENT LIVES
Ancient Lives is divided into two halves, and as if that were not enough, into seven parts as well. The first seven chapters cover the basic methods and theoretical approaches of archaeology. The remainder of the book takes us on a journey through prehistory, from human origins to those dramatic moments when Spanish conquistadors gazed on the Aztec capital in the Valley of Mexico and at the wealth of the Inka civilization in the Andes. The remaining six parts subdivide these broad themes into more manageable chunks.
Part 1, "Archaeology: Studying Ancient Times," consists of four chapters. These chapters define archaeology and prehistory, introduce the nature of the archaeological record, discuss the ways in which archaeologists date the past, and examine ancient technology and ways of obtaining food. Part 2, "Ancient Interactions," focuses on people and their interactions, on the study of ancient religious beliefs, and on the all-important topic of explaining the past.
With Chapter 8 and Part 3, "The World of the First Humans," we begin our narrative of human prehistory with a discussion of human origins and the spread of archaic peoples out of tropical Africa more than 2 million years ago. We end with an analysis of the controversies surrounding the origins of modern humans—Homo sapiens sapiens, modern humanity, "the wise person." Part 4, "Modern Humans Settle the World," comprises just one chapter, which covers the thousands of years of migration that took Homo sapiens sapiens, ourselves, from our African homeland into every corner of the Old World, and, after 15,000 years ago, into the Americas.
In Part 5, "The First Farmers and Civilizations," we continue the story in the Old World, with the beginnings of farming in southwestern Asia, then, later, in Asia. It was farming that led to the last great migrations of Homo sapiens, to the offshore islands of the Pacific Ocean. In Chapter 12, we discuss the beginnings of civilization in Mesopotamia and Egypt. Chapter 13 describes the origins of Asian civilization, culminating in the stupendous Khmer states of Cambodia.
Part 6, "Ancient America," moves to the western hemisphere, where we follow developments after first settlement of the Americas in Chapter 14 and tell the early story of maize, the staple crop of native American agriculture. Chapters 15 and 16 recount the complex histories of civilization in Central America (Mesoamerica) and the Andes region of South America respectively.
Finally, Part 7, "On Being an Archaeologist," provides you with a frank appraisal of career prospects in archaeology, the subject of a brief essay in Chapter 17. Glossaries of technical terms, sites, and cultures follow the final chapter.
THE PHILOSOPHY BEHIND ANCIENT LIVES
Writing a textbook such as Ancient Lives is a constant exercise in compromise and making decisions as to what to include and what to omit. Ancient Lives is designed as a first text in archaeology and prehistory that seeks to engage the reader in a complex enterprise, to explore some of the dimensions of archaeology and human prehistory at a fundamental level.
For the archaeology section (Chapters 1 to 7),1 have made unashamed use of my own extensive fieldwork and laboratory experience, of years visiting other archaeologists' excavations and surveys, to give a sometimes unavoidably arid subject matter greater immediacy. At the same time, these seven chapters draw on methods and examples from all parts of the world, for this is what the prehistory in the next eight chapters is all about. Remember that archaeology and prehistory are global enterprises, not just a product of Europe, North America, and Mexico. The beginner should enjoy archaeology and prehistory, with all the attendant global diversity of field experience and intellectual problems.
The seven method and theory chapters make use of examples from the Americas, Africa, Europe, and Asia, from the earliest archaeological sites to modern urban trash deposits. There are numerous examples of good applications of archaeological method and theory, so it has been hard to choose among them. One school of thought urges the use of the latest examples from brand-new research. Another feels that one should balance male and female archaeologists equally in the examples, without, apparently, any concern for the significance of the site or the methods. I have chosen to mix three ingredients: important sites and case studies, many of them several generations old, which are still outstanding and well-known instances of archaeological research; examples from different parts of the world; and new discoveries. There are many familiar sites and discoveries (Olduvai Gorge, the tomb of Tutankhamun, and so on) that transcend the narrow interests of individual teachers and students. They are used without apology here. After all, the best-known and most spectacular sites are those that often stick in the mind, even if they were excavated several generations ago.
Then there is the thorny issue of archaeological theory, the subject of Chapter 7. Archaeology has witnessed constant theoretical ferment over the past half century, some of it inspired, some of it downright nonsense. The theoretical debates continue, most of them of little concern to the beginner. For this reason, this book espouses no particular theoretical bias, because a wide range of instructors and students will use this book and also because individual teachers can easily use the general summaries given here and present their own perspectives on the tidal currents of archaeological theory.
The prehistory chapters (8 to 16) attempt a simple, jargon-free account of humanity over the past 2.5 million years. Again, I have chosen a global perspective, for I believe that you cannot understand humanity or human diversity unless you examine what happened in all parts of the world. The prehistory of humankind viewed from the single perspective of, say, Egypt or the Andes is meaningless, for the human experience in these regions is but a fragment of an infinitely larger jigsaw puzzle. I have told the story with a minimum of detail, and with as few sites as possible, on the argument that we are concerned here with the general outline of what happened in prehistory and why, not with minor details of local developments, which are covered in more detailed regional surveys. For the same reason, I have skated over the major theoretical debates that surround such important issues as the first settlement of the Americas, the origins of agriculture and animal domestication, and the beginnings of literate civilization. Again, these subjects can be explored in the more specialized literature, references to which are provided in the "Guide to Further Reading," at the end of each chapter.
Ancient Lives is a rapid-fire journey through the worlds of archaeology and prehistory. Inevitably, the discussions of many issues in these pages are cursory. I have erred on the side of overgeneralization, on the grounds that such excesses can easily be corrected in class or in later courses. Best to get the point across, then qualify it, rather than wallowing in a mishmash of "probably's" or "perhapses."
Ancient Lives is written for people who want to know more about archaeology and prehistory, not necessarily with a view to becoming professional archaeologists (although I tell you how to do that in Chapter 17) but so that they can carry some knowledge of the remote past and how we study it with them in later life. As you will discover, the future of our past depends on responsible stewardship of the finite archives of archaeology for future generations by archaeologists and society as a whole.
I have a modest ambition for Ancient Lives. If this book leaves you with a lifetime interest in archaeology and prehistory, with enough background knowledge to understand the reasoning behind...
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